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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Kursk Tragedy: Navy Commander-in-Chief Called to Account

Meanwhile, there are four nuclear submarines of the USSR and Russia lying on the ocean bottom now
Bellona-web correspondent Rashid Alimov told PRAVDA.Ru that the initiators of the suit against the Navy commander-in-chief (well-known attorney Ivan Pavlov who protected the interests of Grigory Pasko is among them) think that the RF Ministry of Defense is still concealing important information about catastrophes. Meanwhile, there are four nuclear submarines of the USSR and Russia lying on the ocean bottom now. Some time ago the Bellona environmental foundation appealed to Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Ivanov in a letter and asked to publish information about accidents that occurred to Soviet navy submarines. The letter said: "According to the information that the foundation obtained from different public sources, breakdown of the nuclear powerplants occurred within the period of 1961 - 1985 at the submarines numbered K-19, K-387, TK-208, K-279, K-447, K-508, K-2090, K-210, K-216, K-316, K-462, K-38, K-37, K-371, and K-367. It is known that as a result of the accidents some people suffered and radioactive emissions in the environment were registered. At the same time, the details of the accidents are still concealed from the community."

Bellona spokesperson, famous Russian ecologist Alexander Nikitin says that the foundation asked the minister to declassify the information about the radiation breakdowns in accordance with the Russian legislation.  Alexander Nikitin was declared guilty of disclosure of the state secret while developing Bellona's report "The Northern Fleet: potential danger of radioactive contamination of the region"; but in 2000 the ecologist was acquitted of the charges by the RF Supreme Court.

The ecological foundation got an official response not from the Minister of Defense but from RF Navy commander-in-chief Vladimir Kuroyedov. First of all, the Navy commander-in-chief said the Navy was unaware of sources from which the information about accidents at nuclear submarines had been obtained. It seems that neither the Navy commander-in-chief nor his assistants read public literature, including ecological editions. Then Vladimir Kuroyedov admitted only one breakdown at K-19 and added that "as the servicemen of the submarine are transferred to the reserve, the Navy has no personal information concerning the people; what is more, this information is the medical secrecy." In fact, when sailors and officers were transferred to the reserve they were forced to give a written undertaking not to reveal information about the breakdowns that occurred at nuclear submarines within the periods of their service. Then the Navy commander-in-chief told the ecological foundation the following thing: "Recently legislation has been adopted for social protection of people. Organizations responsible for this kind of work have been appointed."
 
However, as Bellona was not quite satisfied with the response, it appealed to the court and declared that the RF Ministry of Defense in the person of Navy commander-in-chief Vladimir Kuroyedov allegedly violated the RF Constitution and several statutes of several laws, the law "On the state secret" in particular. The court of Moscow's Presnya District refused to consider the case and said that "cases connected with the state secret must be considered at the Moscow municipal court."
 
Ivan Pavlov says that the environmental organization on the contrary says the case is not connected with the state secret. And the defendant hasn't yet demonstrated and will hardly be able to prove that the case is actually connected with revealing of the state secret. The organization is going to demand revision of the decision at the Moscow municipal court.

According to the Russian legislation, state-run information resources are open and public, with the exception of documented information that the law refers to the restricted access category (the RF law "On information, informatization and protection of information", clause 10). Information about emergency situations, ecological and other information necessary for safe living of settlements, industrial infrastructure and the population mustn't be referred to the restricted access category. According to the clause 7 of the RF law "On the state secret", information about accidents and catastrophes that pose danger to safety and health of people, about natural disasters, the official forecasts of such disasters and their consequences, information about ecology mustn't be classified. The Bellona environmental foundation thinks that information about breakdowns at nuclear submarines and their consequences cannot be referred to classified information of the restricted access category. According to the clause 15 of the RF law "On the state secret" this information must be declassified.

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